October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month — a time to recognize the more than 70 million people in the United States who have learning and thinking differences. It’s also a time to share the variety of tools, strategies, and initiatives that can support people on their journey.
As the only lifelong guide for those who learn and think differently, Understood is always looking for ways to increase awareness of learning and thinking differences like ADHD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia. But this month in particular, we’re excited about the nationwide focus on learning and thinking differences. Here’s how we’re participating in Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, and how others can join in, too.
Learning more about learning and thinking differences
In the United States, 1 in 5 people learn and think differently. Millions of them are undiagnosed, unaware that what they’re experiencing is a learning and thinking difference — and that there are strategies that could help them thrive at school and at work.
Understanding what learning and thinking differences are can go a long way toward creating awareness, shifting perception, and unlocking opportunities for neurodiverse people. Two great places to start:
Developed by Understood in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Take N.O.T.E. is a free, interactive, web-based experience available in English and Spanish. It uses a simple, four-part memory device — N. O. T. E. — to help families identify the signs of possible learning and thinking differences in their kids:
- Notice if there’s something going on with your child that’s out of the ordinary.
- Observe and keep track of patterns.
- Talk with other people who can help support your child, like pediatricians, teachers, and other caregivers.
- Engage your child to get information and explore options for what to do next.
Understood Podcast Network
Creating space to discuss shared experiences is a powerful way to build inclusion and to experience relatable journeys of learning differences. This fall, the Understood Podcast Network launched with three series (with more to come) rooted in empowerment, honesty, and even humor:
- In It — Back for its third season, this podcast showcases the stories of parents and caregivers who are “in it” with their kids. Listen here.
- ADHD Aha! — This new series spotlights the personal, unexpected, and even funny moments people have when it finally clicks that they or someone they know has ADHD. Listen here.
- How’d You Get THAT Job?! — In this new show, listeners learn how young people with learning and thinking differences found a job that they love. Listen here.
Tune in, download, subscribe, and share the links with friends and family.
Starting conversations about learning and thinking differences
Understanding learning and thinking differences is an initial step, but figuring out how to talk about them can be hard. According to Understood’s Back to School Study with UnidosUS, 44 percent of parents don’t know how to begin conversations about learning and thinking differences with educators.
Between parents and teachers
As we enter the season of parent-teacher conferences, Understood will be sharing downloadable tools and guides for both parents and educators to help start and navigate the often tough conversations around learning and thinking differences. We’ll help parents ask the right questions and prepare for productive conversations. We’ll also provide teachers with meaningful resources to help them have conversations with parents who are seeking guidance. Follow the hashtag #RealUnderstood for real and honest conversations across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Check out some of these resources:
Between employers and employees
We’ll also be encouraging organizations to start talking about learning and thinking differences and to bring this topic into their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Because disability inclusion benefits everyone. A 2018 study by Accenture discovered that companies that adopted best practices for hiring and supporting people with disabilities achieved, on average, 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income, and a 30 percent higher economic profit margin than their peers.
Start the conversation around learning and thinking differences:
So, what can you do?
At Understood, we’re working to shape a world where every person can thrive. Taking action together will bring us one step closer to our shared goal. During Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, we invite you to learn more about learning and thinking differences, subscribe to one of our podcasts, check out our online community, or start a conversation about learning and thinking differences. Join us in shaping the world for difference.